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LSC-Tomball’s Surgical Technology Program Attracts a Unique Group of Students: Military Veterans

TOMBALL, TexasMilitary Veteran Joseph Torres is accustomed to training for combat; however, he and several other military veterans have signed up for a different type of training at LSC-Tomball: the hospital operating room.

“We have an interesting trend of graduates of our Surgical Technology program who also happen to be military veterans,” said Diane Montagna, LSC-Tomball clinical coordinator and lead faculty member. “Students with a prior military background tend to be disciplined individuals who have been taught core values similar to our own, such as integrity and leadership. Veterans also understand how to work as a team which is an essential skill when working in the operating room.”

Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, LSC-Tomball's Surgical Technology Program trains students to work as a vital member of an operating room’s health care team. Courses are held on-campus and clinicals are conducted at off-campus local hospital sites to enable students to have training in functional operating rooms.

Torres, who served in the United States Army as a combat engineer from 2002-2007, said while patrolling in rural areas of Iraq, he often saw the need for emergency services and outpatient clinics, and decided that once his military days were over, he would get the training he needed to serve humanity in a slightly different way.

“As a combat engineer, I provided support and performed demolition tasks under combat conditions, but now I provide support for patients in the hospital,” Torres explained. “I really enjoy working in the medical field and I plan to continue working in this field.”

Torres graduated from LSC-Tomball’s Surgical Technology Program in 2014 and is employed at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. He credits his success to LSC-Tomball’s program. But he isn’t the only person or organization that has taken notice of LSC-Tomball’s Surgical Technology program. In fact, the school, in September, received a merit award from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting for achieving at least a 90 percent pass rate on the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) examination for the cycle of August 2016-2017. The CST is required for employment with local, state, and national health care organizations.

Zarka Sobah, who served 16 years in the United States Army as a petroleum supply specialist, said enrolling and graduating from LSC-Tomball’s Surgical Technology program is one of the best decisions she has made in her life. She noted that crossing over from the military to the medical room, for her, was a natural transition.

“Both careers have similar requirements,” said Sobah, who also works at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. “In the military, you have to have discipline and dedication. As a surgical technician, it takes a lot of dedication; eight hour shifts, 12 hour shifts, and calls after hours.”

And just as it was in the military, Sobah says, her day at the hospital starts early at 6:30 a.m.

“Our day usually starts with a pre-meeting for updates on surgeries and getting the supplies ready in order to run the surgery from beginning to the end,” Sobah explained. “Your job as a surgical technician is to set up your table, and we have to anticipate what the doctor may need. I can definitely say that LSC-Tomball prepared me well for this field, and I believe the school has one of the best programs around.”

As to why more military veterans or anyone else interested in entering the surgical technology field should consider LSC-Tomball’s program, Montagna said, “I believe we have a program that measures up if not surpasses other local programs and those that are nationwide. We have state of the art equipment and supplies that help our students learn and gives them an advantage when they enter the workplace.” 

Lone Star College-Tomball’s Health Science Building is located at 700 Graham Drive, across from the Tomball Regional Medical Center. For more information about the college, call 281.351.3300 or visit LoneStar.edu/Tomball.

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Known for its leadership, innovation and steadfast commitment to student success, Lone Star College provides high-quality academic transfer and workforce education/career training programs to more than 83,000 credit students each semester, and a total enrollment of 95,000 students. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to promote student success and economic prosperity. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., is the chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, which consists of six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.